Treehouse Shakers

Treehouse Shakers
Hatched, BAM Fisher, Hillman Studio

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Strong Vision for Family Arts Programming

This month Chrissie DiAngelus of Piccadilly Arts is our guest blogger. Treehouse Shakers is so very lucky to be represented by Chrissie. She has an exceptional aesthetic, is a creative person by nature, and embraces collaboration. She also has a wonderful work ethic, energy, and brings a whole sense of freshness to the scene of family programming. To Read Chrissie's Blog Check Out Piccadilly Arts Blog.
When I started in the performing arts as an agent, I booked our family roster in schools and with a few national presenting series.  It was as straightforward as it comes – one or two performances and maybe a workshop.  The fee is the fee.
When I launched my own agency – with a focus on family and youth performances – I spent a good amount of time soul searching and asking myself why certain things mattered.  I put myself through my own series of brand building exercises and arrived at several overarching themes that paved the way for my brand – its vision, personality and image – and also my marketing messages. 
One of my values is collaboration.  I’m an inclusive person and while fiercely independent, I thrive on creating collaborative environments and leading and participating in collaborative projects.  I’m a connector too so the idea of people and tasks operating in silos is completely ridiculous to me.  It’s also dated.  We are a global linked in world - Ideas come from all over, from lots of creative conversations, and need a village to help them along to fruition.  We can and should embrace resources in a very strategic, thoughtful, and connected way.  I believe whole heartedly that the thoughtful collaborative approach will always rein over the go-it-alone approach – in thoughtfulness, in creativity, and ultimately in its success.
Quality programming matters to me.  Regardless of who your audience is, why you need to program this versus that, quality has to be there.  Artistic quality, technical quality, engaging and relevant content, and a means of resonating with people. 
Finally, reform. Reform on a huge scale: United States educational reform primarily with creativity the fuel of fire.  All arts integrated into the curriculum, taken seriously by the government and educators so we hear no more “The school or PTO doesn’t have the funds for dance” or “I can only program character building assemblies” or “What’s the tie in to the curriculum?”  Art doesn’t need to “tie in” to anything.  Art is everything.

The future of my industry, particularly related to family programming, will demand many things – new and innovative ways of funding, education reform, and a creative collaborative approach to programming to name a few. 

Here are a few ideas I’d like to see over the next decade in family programming:
Risk. Let’s share the risk – Most programmers love edgier material but for various reasons (reform and funding being the largest) are hesitant to present it.  I challenge us all to eliminate some of the risk involved – let’s make sure we do our due diligence and cover expenses but then maybe there is some wiggle room with the rest of the fee.  Maybe as artists and managers, we consider pre-performance work to help the presenter in the sell. 
Trust.  I use this as my transition between Risk and Programming because it takes an enormous amount of trust (and communication) in and with ourselves, our advisors, collaborators and funders to fuel progress.  With solid missions, a brand, and strategies, the goals are clear.  There will always be road blocks and times when we must back up and find another way to move forward, but the artistic leader will always seek it.

Programming. Let’s think really hard about the tween/teen programming.  We may not be able to conquer it all today but if we can look at programming trends and cultivate the audience who are toddlers and grade schoolers today, we will keep them as audience members as tweens and teens.

Collaborate.  Let’s collaborate as venues and as funders.  To my point of hating silos…there is no reason for one venue or one major funder to financially back a project.  And no reason for any one person, venue, or ensemble to do all the leg work.  Remember I said it takes a village? If you have the right vested people in place – the visionary, the strategist, and the executers – from various venues and funding organizations, there is no reason why a project can’t launch.

Finally, I say, Embrace the new and scary.  I say this more with regards to technology.  Arts marketing is fueled by creative thinkers and creative performances so why does the arts lag behind other industries?  Let’s be those early adopters.  I don’t know what it looks like, but who cares?  Experiment with collecting cell #s of teens and texting mobile updates…what about an interesting app for the iPad that engages youth in theater, music and dance, encourages participation, while promoting your venue? The standbys like You Tube, Blogs, Facebook, Twitter – these are MUST HAVES now.  In the words of Willie Wonka, if you aren’t on board with these, “You lose.  You get nothing.”  This is where it’s at – for moms, dads, caregivers, toddlers, tweens and teens.  You have got to be where they are and if not, you are not relevant.    Ask a teen to help you out – isn’t that a progressive concept?  A teenager in your marketing or programming department?  Tell me he or she would love that? And would not be at the performance?  With his/her friends?

About Chrissie

Chrissie DiAngelus

Chrissie DiAngelus founded Piccadilly Arts in 2006 as a freelance marketing consultant. She has over 10 years experience building brands, aligning mission, strategy and tactics, and crafting strategic marketing and new business development plans. Prior to launching Piccadilly Arts, Chrissie was an Artist Representative with Baylin Artists Management, managing projects and tours of the family artist roster and managing all conference and showcase planning. Since then, she was the Program Associate with Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour (a program of Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation) and consulted with a roster of 150 performing artists and various presenting organizations in the Mid Atlantic region on projects, tours, residencies, and marketing strategies. Chrissie managed PennPAT's branding and marketing strategies, attended numerous industry conferences, and managed the program's independently produced showcases. Highlights include her interview on Comcast Newsmakers in April 2008, realigning the program's mission to its brand with new messaging, securing new media partnerships, and launching social media tactics.

She been a guest lecturer at Temple University's School of Dance and for the Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation on topics ranging from branding, marketing, touring, and arts administration. She was a recipient of a scholarship from the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance to attend the 2008 National Arts Marketing Project Conference.  In 2009, she was invited back to lead a roundtable discussion on social media. She has served on the conference committees of the 2008, 2009, and 2010 PA Presenters Networking Conference, as a panelist for their 2010 adjudicated showcases, and currently serves on the consortia's development committee.  Industry affiliations include Pennsylvania Presenters, Ohio Arts Presenters Network, IPAY (International Performing Arts for Youth) and the Sustainable Business Network of Philadelphia. She also serves on the board of the Theater Alliance of Philadelphia as a member of the Promotions & Awareness Committee. 

Chrissie is a graduate of Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. She majored in Management and minored in Fine Art. She continues to take classes in photography, collage and pottery and recently learned to crochet.